Sheoran failing dope test and getting caught not shock, but good news, says AFI chief Sumariwalla

Nirmala Sheoran, who came fourth in the women’s 400m event at the Asian Games earlier this year, has been provisionally suspended after tests conducted in the WADA’s Montreal laboratory.

Nirmala Sheoran has tested positive for banned substances. (File Photo)   -  AFP

For the last few years, Nirmala Sheoran has been virtually in hiding, evading dope-testers, only showing up at final selection meets before major Games to grab national team berths with her stunning timings. Now, her game is up.

The news coming in that five Indian athletes, including Asian 400m champion Nirmala, have failed dope tests in retests done at WADA’s Montreal lab, may appear to be a hard blow for Indian athletics.

But it is not, for AFI president Adille Sumariwalla.

“Why do you call it a shock, it is very good news because if people get caught, people will learn that they shouldn’t do it,” Sumariwalla told Sportstar on Tuesday.

FOUR-YEAR BAN

“We have zero tolerance to doping. If the biggest name goes in, everybody gets scared. And as far as we are concerned, we have put a four-year ban on them and the story is over.”

Sumariwalla made it clear that none of the athletes who tested positive were national campers when the tests were conducted.

“All of them were tested at Guwahati (Inter-State Nationals, June-end, selection meet for the Asiad). None of them were in the camp before that, we added their names only after Guwahati,” explained Sumariwalla.

The athletes’ samples tested earlier in India’s National Dope Testing Laboratory had been negative but the world body WADA had wanted them to be retested.

According to reports, distance runners Sanjivani Jadhav and Jhuma Khatum, discus thrower Sandeep Kumari and men’s shot putter Naveen Chikara were the others who had tested positive.

Sumariwalla said Nirmala had sent everybody on a confusing chase.

“We had sent 10 people to her house. We sent them to Rohtak, they said she was somewhere else…in Rajasthan and then in Germany. She kept giving all sorts of bullshit to people,” he said.

‘WOULD HAVE LOST TWO MEDALS’

The AFI chief said that the federation’s policy of not including non-campers like Nirmala in the national relay team has now been vindicated.

“When we said we are not going to take them, a lot of people hammered us. Today, we would have lost two medals. If you take forbidden substance, you will get caught, if not today, tomorrow,” said Sumariwalla.

“And if somebody in the camp takes banned stuff, he is completely stupid because the NADA officials are there every 10 days.”

He said the feeling that athletes are being sent to countries like the Czech Republic to evade testers does not trouble him.

“Everybody says they are running away by going there. But they were tested 11 times there before the Asiad. I cannot say whether everyone was tested 11 times but WADA came 11 times. And I think Neeraj Chopra (Commonwealth and Asiad javelin throw champion) and Hima Das (under-20 World champion quartermiler) were tested more than 10 times in the last few months.”